Address by the Most Eminent and Supreme Grand Master
My dear fellow Brother Knights, when I addressed you in May, I remember expressing my hope that we would be able to meet this November, as a Chapter of Great Priory, in the normal manner at Freemasons Hall. Sadly, my wish has not materialised and I therefore felt it appropriate, on this very special day in our Great Priory calendar, to use this platform to communicate with our Brother Knights throughout the Constitution. First, I do trust that you, your families and loved ones, have all managed to stay safe and well over the past six months, and I do thank you for the loyalty shown to your various Preceptories and the encouragement you have given to your fellow Brother Knights. It has undoubtedly been, and continues to be, a difficult time for us all, but as someone once said to me, ‘It can’t rain forever’, and I know that we will remain true to the Order and firm in our Faith until we eventually emerged from this dark episode.
Today is again one of celebration for those Brother Knights receiving appointments and promotions and it would have been my privilege to invest you personally with your new ranks. I do offer you my warmest and sincere congratulations, I know how hard you work in your Priories and Provinces to ensure that the Malta Ceremony is always executed to the highest possible standard, thus leaving our Candidates with a lasting memory and an encouragement to strive to attain to similar excellence.
We have been custodians of the Malta Ritual, virtually unchanged since 1863, when at a Grand Conclave meeting in May that year, The Grand Master, William Stuart, sanctioned the Ritual and recommended that it be adopted by all Priories. Seven years later, in 1870, HRH The Prince of Wales witnessed the Ceremony and it was at that meeting he expressed an interest in the Order, the rest, as they say, is history.
I have no doubt that we would have been thrilled once more today with another superb and memorable Malta Ceremony. On that note, I know you will be delighted to learn that I am re-appointing Very Eminent Knight Jonathan Charles Whitaker as the Great Prior of Malta and Very Eminent Knight Stephen John Warwick as the Great Sub-Prior. Let’s look forward with optimism to seeing them both doing what they do so very well at this meeting next year.
Although we are prohibited from meeting today, nevertheless the wheels of Great Priory, and indeed, all the Mark Masons Hall Orders, have been turning much the same as ever and we owe the Great Vice-Chancellor and the staff at the Chancery our heartfelt thanks for continuing the work ensuring that the Order is functioning and, most importantly, will be there for us, as we would wish, when these troubled times are behind us. Of course, the one thing that is always with us is our on-going commitment to the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group and I do want to thank all those Preceptories and Provinces who have continued to send their regular donations despite not having met for some time. Many of you have also qualified for the Swift lapel pin which is the symbol of our 20 4 2020 appeal. I am so personally grateful to you for supporting this venture which would obviously have been much further advanced had circumstances been different.
The association between Great Priory and the Hospital was established well over 100 years ago in the time when the Duke of Connaught was our Grand Master and also the Grand Prior of the Order of St John. Since then we have evolved into one of the Hospital’s Principal benefactors and as such have accepted a responsibility to fund certain aspects of their organisation. Our annual contribution pays for a Consultant and his or her staff in the running of one of the departments at the Jerusalem centre. The Great Vice-Chancellor and I have visited all but one of the Hospitals in the Group and witness their work first-hand and only then could anyone appreciate the extremely difficult conditions they have to work under. Please stay with until the end of this address and I’ll show you some very recent pictures of the Children’s Ward at Jerusalem which your donations have completely funded. The purpose of the 20 4 2020 appeal is directed at funding what they call their ‘Outreach’ programme which we have committed to for three years. This will enable a team of doctors and nurses to travel in a vehicle, fitted with the necessary medical equipment, to places where the local people are unable for one reason or another to get to one of the Hospitals to receive the treatment they so desperately need. Eye disease and sight loss have always been huge problems in that area and nearly 140,000 patients are treated each year with an outstanding success rate.
If you haven’t already done so, all you have to do is donate £20.00 which, if you happen to be a UK tax-payer will become £25.00 and for which, in recognition, Great Priory will send you this pin. If you would like to take part in this venture just go on to the Mark Masons Hall Website www.markmasonshall.org , go to Orders and click on KT, scroll down and you will find the necessary forms and information to donate the £20.00 which, believe me, will be gratefully received and faithfully applied. The pins are being despatch as we speak by the team on the 4th Floor.
Before closing, I want to pay tribute to the amazing work our Provincial Priors are doing throughout the world. They really are the heroes in our present situation. I must welcome to that distinguished group, Right Eminent Knight Richard Micklefield, who took charge of the Province of Dorset and Wiltshire on June 6th and who I know will serve with great distinction for the Order. Please Brother Knights, give your Provincial Priors all the support and loyalty they deserve, this we will ensure that our Preceptories will remain in first class condition and ready for that magical moment when we can return to our labours as Brother Knights, we certainly have busy and exciting times to look forward to. Remember, as you always do, our Christmas Day Observance at 5.00 pm which I’m sure this year will hold a very special significance for us all.
We normally finish our November Great Priory with the singing of the Hymn, Praise my Soul the King of Heaven, chiefly because it was Harold Devereux Still’s favourite, but I thought on this occasion we would reflect on the words of a favourite of mine which remind us that the path of life is seldom an easy one, and, as we have found out in recent months, requires the courage and determination which only our faith in the Great Captain of our Salvation can provide. You might also consider using the verses of this Hymn as an accompaniment to your 20 second hand washing, they work perfectly. It’s Father, hear the prayer we offer.